Health and Environment Essay

Topics: Particulate, Air pollution, National Ambient Air Quality Standards Pages: 6 (1770 words) Published: August 27, 2013
Health and Environment Essay
Auckland region Air Quality report card
Wednesday 17 April 2013

Word count: 1456

This aim of this essay is to examine how people within the Auckland region have impacted on the air quality of their environment and as a result how this has affected their health. The selected report card on air quality was received from the Auckland Council's, State of Auckland website (Auckland Council, 2012). The human impacts on air quality that will be reviewed, are the use of open wood fireplaces for home heating and the emissions from motor vehicles. Given that it is essential for humans to breathe to sustain life we will examine the effect of air pollution from these emissions linked to respiratory problems and premature deaths. As a final point the review of the strategies the Auckland government has put in place to help reduce air pollution and the impact on human health in this region. Air pollution can be defined as the accumulation of gases, fumes, dust and pollutants in harmful amounts causing potential damage to the health of humans, animals and plants via natural or human activity (Kardesoglu, Yalcin, & Isilak, 2011). New Zealand measures its airborne particulate matter (PM) as, PM10 (large) particulates representing airborne particles less than 10 micrometres and PM2.5 (fine) particulates representing airborne particles that are less than 2.5 microns in diameter (Auckland Council, 2012; Ministry for the Environment [MFTE], 2007).

There are three key causes that lead to a negative human impact on air quality in the Auckland environment; this essay will focus on two causes. The first involves the combustion of wood and coal materials used in open wood fireplaces for home heating. According to the 2006 Census 26,000 open fireplaces were used by people in the Auckland region (Hibiscus Matters, 2013). When people use wood and coal primarily during winter the result is the increased amount of PM10 emitted into the air each day being 72% of the 15.1 tons through domestic use, whereas in summer only 4% each day is domestic use per 4.4 tons (Auckland Council, 2012). Although PM10 “large particulate matter, a concern with home heating emissions, is not a primary concern” (McNaughton, 2013 p.61), domestic fireplaces are the biggest problem of air pollution in winter (Auckland Council, 2012; MFTE, 2007). However, as Auckland moves through the seasons into summer, very fine particulate matter (PM2.5) resulting from vehicle emissions (McNaughton, 2013) becomes the biggest cause of air pollution, especially in highly urbanised populations such as Auckland (MFTE, 2007).

The second human impact on the air quality in Auckland, is the use of transport, in particular motor vehicles. During summer, transport accounts for 71% of the 4.4 tons PM10 emitted daily (Auckland Council, 2012). The 2006 census states 17.7 percent of households in the Auckland region have access to three or more vehicles (Statistics New Zealand, 2006) with 76% using a motor vehicle on census day 7 March 2006 (MFTE, 2007). Auckland is a central city for employment therefore around 200,000 cars travel daily (McNaughton, 2013) with many commuters travelling from the outer regions such as North Shore city, Waitakere city and Manukau city (McNaughton, 2013). Observations conclude that many motor vehicles have one occupant driving, therefore, the major concern is a high rate of congestion, most notably in places such as Auckland with greater population (MFTE, 2007). This has a huge impact on the environment as more people driving means higher amounts of emissions, which include “hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, sulphides and nitrates” (McNaughton, 2013, p. 61) to be leaked into the air. These substances are most toxic to humans and are the main causes of health related illness in New Zealand (McNaughton, 2013).

Human health and air quality are directly connected and unavoidable. It is important to discuss the implications of an...

References: Auckland Council. (2012). State of Auckland air quality report card. Retrieved from http://stateofauckland.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/air-quality-report-card/auckland-reporting-area/
Auckland Council. (2013). The Auckland plan. Retrieved from http://theplan.theaucklandplan.govt.nz/aucklands-environment/
Fisher, G., Kjellstrom, T., Kingham, S., Hales, S., Shrestha, R., Sturman, A., . . . Durand, M. (2007). Health and Air Pollution in New Zealand. Retrieved from http://www.hapinz.org.nz/HAPINZ%20Exec%20Summary%20Final%20Clean%20June%202007%20v3.pdf
Hibiscus Matters. (2012). Log burners in the firing line. Retrieved from http://www.localmatters.co.nz/Hibiscus+Matters/Hibiscus+News+Archives/News+-+March+2012/Log+burners+in+the+firing+line.html
Kardesoglu, E., Yalcin, M., & Isilak, Z. (2011). Air pollution and cardiovascular system. TAF Preventive Medicine Bulletin, 10(1.000), 97-106. doi: 10.5455/pmb.20101208034634
Ministry for the Environment. (2007). State of the Environment. Retrieved from http://www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/ser/enz07-dec07/environment-nz07-dec07.pdf
Ministry of Health. (2013). Asthma. Retrieved February, 20, 2013 http://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/conditions-and-treatments/diseases-and-illnesses/asthma
McNaughton, S., (2013). Urban Issues. In Shaw, S., White, L., & Deed, B. (Eds.), Health, wellbeing & environment in Aotearoa New Zealand (pp.54-68). South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press
Statistics New Zealand. (2006). QuickStats about the Auckland Region. Retrieved from http://www.stats.govt.nz/Census/2006CensusHomePage/QuickStats/AboutAPlace/SnapShot.aspx?tab=Culturaldiversity&id=1000002&p=y&printall=true&map=off
3 News. (2013). Auckland Council unveils Unitary Plan [Website]. Retrieved from http://www.3news.co.nz/Auckland-Council-unveils-Unitary-Plan/tabid/423/articleID/290397/Default.aspx
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